The Cobalt Mines

Blaafarveværket was established in 1776 to extract cobalt from the mines at Modum, Norway. The cobalt was used to produce the blue dye for the world’s porcelain and glass industries.

When asked to exhibit my dioramas at the Kittelsen Museum which is part  of Blaafarveverkets attractions, I was inspired to make a cobalt mine, set around 1840.

The Kobold lurking in the dark

Construction of  the mine

This is my first diorama that is not taking place inside a house. I did some research on  how to create rocks, and I chose to use Polystyrene, because you can easily cut and carve it, and it has rock-like qualities.

To fill in the gaps I used Sculptamold, plaster, and sprayfoam.

Painting and staining

There are a ton of different shades and textures  in the mines, so I used a mix of reds and yellows, as well as earthcolored liquid acrylics. I added a thin layer of of spraypaint on top, as well as some rust-and sandcolored powders.

The miners

To give life to this big rocky space, I needed some good characters.

I researhed historical photos of miners in Norway, and read some books about mining in the 1840’s to learn what they would be doing, what tools they would use and what they would wear. I made sketches,to see what kind of clothes would look best on the mice.

I played around quite a bit before  I decided on their positions.

The miners clothes

I  used vintage fabrics that I cut from  clothes after my ancestors. This was perfect for the miners, as I wanted  the garments to be really worn and faded.

My granddads’ wallet, I turned into five pairs of boots, and the leather-pieces they wear around their waist.


A mythical sprite from Germanic folklore.

Legends often paint underground kobolds as evil creatures. The name of the element cobalt comes from the creature’s name, because medieval miners blamed the sprite for the poisonous nature of the typical arsenical ores of this metal. They were blamed for the accidents, cave-ins, and rock slides that plagued human miners.


I was considering a trainwagon, but decided on a good oldfashioned wheelbarrel, as the space felt too small to build train tracks and a larger car.

Some froglamps, since this is 1840, and a bucket..

Mice vs men